Free Press (organization)

Free Press is a United States advocacy group that is part of the media reform or media democracy movement. It gives the following mission statement: "We fight to save the free and open Internet, curb runaway media consolidation, protect press freedom, and ensure diverse voices are represented in our media."[3] The group is a major supporter of net neutrality.[4][1]

Free Press
Formation2003 (2003)[1]
FieldsPublic policy
Key people
Robert W. McChesney, John Nichols, Josh Silver
Craig Aaron
Approx. 25[2]

History, organization, and activities

Free Press is a 501(c)(3) organization.[2] The Free Press Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization[5] and is the group's advocacy arm.[6]

Free Press was co-founded in 2003[1] by writer Robert W. McChesney, progressive journalist John Nichols, and activist Josh Silver.[7]

It is part of the broader "media reform movement" (or "media democracy movement"), and has described its work in these terms. This movement promotes ideas of "media localism" and opposes media consolidation.[7] Like other organizations that are part of the same movement (such as the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Media Access Project, and Center for Digital Democracy), Free Press is concerned with issues such as Federal Communications Commission regulations, "as well as Congressional funding for public broadcasting and the malfeasance of corporate media."[7]

Free Press leads the Save the Internet coalition, which supports net neutrality.[8] The Coalition consists of individuals, nonprofits, and companies, ranging from advocacy groups to consumer groups to Silicon Valley companies,[9][10] including Google and Microsoft.[10]

Free Press has sponsored the annual National Conference for Media Reform since 2003.[7]

Free Press has offices in Washington, D.C., and Florence, Massachusetts.[2] It had a staff of nine in 2008,[1] and a staff of 25 in 2016.[2]

Net neutrality

Free Press is a strong supporter of net neutrality.[1][4] In 2008, Free Press was the key mover in a pro-net neutrality campaign that "drew together strange bedfellows, including the Christian Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Gun Owners of America, and helped set in motion a broader debate on the issue" that resulted in an FCC hearing on the subject.[1] In its campaign for net neutrality, Free Press has been allied with Democratic members of Congress.[1][11] The group supports the 2015 Open Internet Order, in which the FCC classified broadband internet as a common carrier service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934,[12][13] which meant that "no content could be blocked by broadband providers and that the internet would not be divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else."[12]

Free Press has long been strongly critical of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai because of Pai's opposition to net neutrality regulations. In 2017, Free Press's president Craig Aaron has said that the reversal of the 2015 Open Internet Order "would put consumers at the mercy of phone and cable companies."[12] Pai, in turn, has been critical of Free Press, asserting that Free Press has a "socialist" agenda.[14]


The board of directors includes McChesney, Nichols, and Silver, as well as Craig Aaron, Michael Copps, Olga Davidson, Kim Gandy, Liza Pike, and Ben Scott.[15]

In 2008, Tim Wu of Columbia Law School was elected chair of the Free Press board.[6]

See also


  1. Kang, Cecilia (28 March 2008). "Net Neutrality's Quiet Crusader: Free Press's Ben Scott Faces Down Titans, Regulators in Battle Over Internet Control". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  2. Free Press, Guidestar (accessed June 9, 2016).
  3. What We Do, Free Press (accessed July 9, 2016).
  4. Boliek, Brooks (February 25, 2015). "Tom Wheeler tweaks net neutrality plan after Google push". Politico. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  5. Free Press Action Fund, Guidestar (accessed June 9, 2016).
  6. Tim Wu Elected Board Chair at Free Press, Columbia Law School (April 2008).
  7. Dan Berger, Defining Democracy: Coalition Politics and the Struggle for Media Reform, International Journal of Communication 3 (2009).
  8. Adi Robertson, Who's fighting to save the internet now?: Net neutrality supporters gear up to take on the FCC, The Verge (May 5, 2014).
  9. Lawrence Lessig & Robert W. McChesney, No Tolls on The Internet, Washington Post (June 8, 2006).
  10. Anne Broache, New group aims to 'save the Internet', CNET (April 24, 2006).
  11. Senators Champion Net Neutrality and Call on FCC to Act (press release), Free Press (July 15, 2014).
  12. Cecilia Kanga, F.C.C. Chairman Pushes Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules, New York Times (April 26, 2017).
  13. Edward Wyatt, F.C.C. Considering Hybrid Regulatory Approach to Net Neutrality, New York Times (November 1, 2014).
  15. "Board of Directors". Free Press.
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